Day 7: Rome

Well as you can see right now this is roughly 3 days late…I think that’s what it will be by the time I am able to upload this and anyone is able to read it. You may ask, “why so late?” well…I’m in Rome. Yes Rome, I know it sounds weird, listing a major city and then following with this issue of not having a chance to post this- Day 7’s blog (I need to remind myself which day this is supposed to be). Now to answer why, even though I’m in Rome, a major city, with every opportunity for wifi, I can’t post: I’m in a convent.  Our stay for the next two days is a convent, just down the road….like 5 minute walk from firstly Michelangelo’s Moses, a church I can’t remember the name, and can’t Google because I don’t have wifi, and craziest of all, the Colesseum!
            I got to see the Colesseum today! I walked around the corner and there it stood!, It’s enormous, and seriously this is becoming a really obnoxious thing to not putting into words the whole being blown away thing. But, let me put it simply, even our quick preview of where we plan on being tomorrow was incredible, to see its size, that I was roughly 30 feet up from it’s road, and I was still barely over a third of the way up the thing. Anyways, enough of going on about the Colesseum, I actually think I may have more deep…well I’m hoping, but don’t get your hopes up, and more cohesive thoughts together.
            Leaving Assisi today was tough. To be honest, I really wasn’t looking forward to leaving, its I think the one place I’d love to move to if I was to move to a non-English speaking country (we’ll see if Venice gets added to that list). The old district was incredible. Besides the spiritual significance, it just fit me…maybe it was too much a comfort zone thing, but regardless it was a God send in everyway. A place of peace, of preparation, and of joy. Then it was off to Rome, after a two hour ride prefaced with an hour train misshape, getting on the wrong one, we made it to Roma!
            City is huge, and I’m not a big city person too much. I can enjoy it for sure, but I’m definitely more on edge and less carefree. I think though the art, and the just massive scale of the historical sites will help counter it…just a bit.
            AND…that brings me back to this very familiar place, of not being sure how I should react and respond to all the information I’m taking in. I think I solved it today, and I’ll preface it a bit. Our first stop after settling into the convent, was a church nearby. A Neoclassical church, with sculptures with a ton of Baroque period influence, and that neoclassical throwback to Greco-Roman architecture, basically everything in Rome past the first millennium.
            I walked in, after being impressed and a bit overpowered by the outsides, and I’m blown away by the extravagance of it all. Two main themes to my thoughts came about within minutes of walking in. 1). This majestic, completely marble, granite, and gold structure was built to prepare a man, broken and earthly, to fear and be in awe of the almighty, all knowing, all present, all just, and all loving God. 2). Fear of how this may have been built more to man with God as the (hopefully) right intention of God but slant to glorify man’s works and take advantage of people.

             I sure hope it was the first, because honestly I did struggle. I had issues seeing the place and I guess justifying it. St. Francis sure would have had issues with the size, the riches of it all. (Hopefully this will make sense cause I plan on inserting a picture…if not….think a small scale Vatican and you have a decent idea of this place.) Sometimes I do think that too much gold and sculptures, size, and rituals do distract from God. I think that’s an honest and accurate, well let me rephrase that.. a very true and often occurring thing. BUT, I don’t want to take away from the emotional effect it had and the place it brought me.
          (This isn't that church, this is St. Peter' incredible)  I hope that doesn’t sound to crazy, using that phrase, “the place it brought me.” If it does, remember I’m an artist, I’m visual, and you need to maybe figure out if your simply not one to be that experiential or possibly you aren’t letting God interact with you in a personal level, or even a extraterrestrial level. I truly feel like that was what I was being blessed with in the Basilica (Church).
            I had reached that same place again, of feeling like my reaction wasn’t enough… I acted out emotions responses trying to get myself to feel them. It worked a bit, but not quite natural as it should be. I was talking to one of my friends, and I said that I’m beginning to realize it might simply be my reaction to overload. It’s not a shut down but a calm, a voidness trying to gather it all in. I hope so because I am honestly scared I’m not being effected as I should be….(self though coming up here) “God…why? Am I supposed to have a huge response to this all? Are you keeping me from it? Are you protecting me? Am I trying to hard? Whatever it is please let it be pleasing to you, enriching to me for your glory.”
            After that realization, I started just soaking in the art. I don’t really have good words but I’m going to hopefully, through scattered sentences and thoughts express where I was at. I thought of the artists. They made beautiful, awe inspiring art as worship, I hope, at the least for other’s worship. It was worship to see it. I began to worship a bit through it. I looked upon the grand frescos in the ceiling, and in the apses and I did feel my heart move. My eyes would tear. I began to just soak it in, but I did notice I had to do it by myself. Maybe art as worship, as truly, 100% impactful takes me being apart from others…We’ll see. The apex of the Basilica had a Byzantine styled mosaic that caught my breath. It glittered in the light, and honestly that was enough. It reminded me of the concept artists created under, that stain glass, or even mosaics with gold leaf was intended to change the light and create a place that felt between earth and heaven. One place that especially did this was a side room in the Basilica. It held a crucifix, but it was in front of gold, it was showered in light through glass, and the dome above it was a ray of gold stretching down with scattered gold inlayed diamond shaped trim. It caught my breath, and me think, “My God, Heaven is going to be more than this. God, I will one day be in a place more amazing than this moment, this second I’m experiencing.”
            On a side note, read Don Miller’s “Searching for God Knows What” because It’s great and it had a line in it today that read like this, “ Everyone in the Bible that met God was afraid of him People were even afraid of angels…It makes you wonder if the first thousand years in heaven will have us running around screaming like we would during a earthquake, the whole time God saying to us in an enormous, booming voice, Calm down, calm down, will you, it’s just me.”  I thought this was fitting to my growing, possibly Holy Spirit moving experience.
            Ok I’ll try to stop soon, I’m writing a ton, and I don’t want to bore any of you or make you not want to read, because to be honest we all get to that point of reading when enough is enough. I just want to convey this idea that we need to really self reflect, get to know who we are, and what we see in God, and how to appropriately react to scenes, art, experiences that are meant to point us to him. I’m definitely learning that.

This trip I know is a lot about cultural learning, and maybe I can argue that my self reflecting is that. To be honest even if these posts aren’t meeting the requirements of sharing more on what I’m learning about the people I’m ok with that... I can always post about that all together… I want to learn and reflect, and grow…so here are questions I almost as prayer wrote down sitting in the middle of this Basilica.

How do I express AWE?
How do I let art, the majestic, the sublime impact me, mentally, spiritually?
How do I convey the jumble of thoughts and emotions?
How should I really be reacting?
How am I to grow?
Why do I experience numbness, and how do I get to trembling awe of my God through all this experience?

I guess I’ll leave it there, maybe the next post, though I know it will be a lot more about art can be a bit more all inclusive about my experience with the people, so I can say I did write a bit about them too.

Also, out of gratitude, I just want to say thanks and a bit of shock that you have made it through all that. Thank you for reading, because my little Google Blogger lets me know someone is looking at these. Thank you also for your prayers if you are one dear to me, or better phrased someone I know personally.